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foolishpoolish's picture


bwraith's picture

In order to fine tune my milling and sifting process, I ran a series of tests at different mill coarseness settings to see which setting might result in the best separation of bran from endosperm. I then ran a successive reduction multi-pass milling and sifting process at what appeared to be the best first pass settings and sent samples of all these tests to CII Labs to see what some of the ash content, protein content, and dough rheology might be. I also sent in some samples of Heartland Mill flours to use as a reference, since these are the types of flour I would like to emulate with my home milling process. In fact, I use Heartland Mill Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries in all these milling tests.

The equipment and general process has been described in previous blog entries on home milling and sifting.

The processing is accomplished using a Meadows 8 Inch Stone Mill and a Meadows Eccentric Sifter, as well as a sieve shaker that can stack several 12 inch diameter stainless steel or brass sieves of US standard sizes.

The CII Lab results for the initial test of varying coarseness settings of the mill have sample descriptions such as "P1 open 1/3 turn 35-50". The P1 is just a label for the setting of the mill, which is listed next. At 1/3 turn, the mill stones are separated by about 1/2 a grain width. Similarly 1/6 turn would be about 1/4 of a grain width, and so on. The numbers at the end refer to the size of the sieves used. So, a sample labeled 35-50 went through a US standard number 35 sieve and was caught in the US standard number 50 sieve.

The CII Lab results for the second test start with a first pass with a 1/6 turn opening, which seemed to be a good setting to get good initial separation of bran from endosperm in the initial tests to determine the best first pass mill coarseness setting. The sample descriptions have labels like "P2a <70" or "P1 40-80m". The P2a is the label of the pass in the process described in the process flow chart for this milling session. The "<70" refers to product that went through the US standard number 70 sieve in the stack of sieve shakers used for all but the first pass.

On the first pass, "P1", the Meadows Eccentric Sifter was used. It has sifter sections specified by the mesh size of the screens in the three sections of the sifter. So, the "40-80m" refers to flour that went through the 40 mesh section and was caught in the 80 mesh section.It so happens that due to the wire diameters of the material used in the screens, the 26m section has about the same opening size as a US standard number 20 sieve, the 40m section has about the same opening size as a US standard number 35 sieve, the 60 mesh (not used in this session) is about the same opening size as a US standard number 50 sieve, and finally the 80 mesh screen has the same opening size as a US standard number 70 sieve. So, in order to simulate the use of the Meadows sifter in subsequent passes with my smaller sieve shaker that is just more practical for these smaller amounts, I used US standard numbers 20,35,50, and 70 sieves in the stack.

I also include a spreadsheet (xls, html formats) that summarizes the results of the milling session. On the "model" sheet, there is an attempt to model what would happen at other mill settings than the one I used, based on data from the initial runs at various coarseness settings and my guesses about how the subsequent millings would go. All of that may not be very useful, except to me. However, the "model" sheet also shows a summary of the basic ash content output of each stream from the process I ran.

The flour streams with ash content around 1% had very reasonable rheological properties, which makes sense, since I was able to make some very nice breads very similar to what would have been possible with Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo flour. The stream of lower ash content flour seemed to have low mixing tolerance, so I must have inadvertently separated out some important components of proteins needed to form good quality gluten. This tells me I can create a flour with an ash content of somewhere around .85% by mixing some of the other higher protein streams with the very low ash stream to get an off-white flour that is whiter than Golden Buffalo, yet still will create a strong enough dough. I suspect that using the lowest ash stream by itself might result in a dough that doesn't have the best baking properties, since the farinograph showed weak mixing tolerance relative to the other Heartland Mill products or my own higher ash content flours more similar to Golden Buffalo.

Additional Results From Wheat Montana Berries Milling Session (added 2/26/08)

I conducted a similar series of milling tests with Wheat Montana Bronze Chief berries, which are hard red spring wheat berries. I wanted to see if the process would go differently with the harder berries and if this would suggest changes to the process of the mill settings and sifting approach.

A flow chart of this milling session, very similar to the last, other than the addition of a fourth pass, has been posted. The preliminary report from CII Lab (now updated to final as of 3/6/08) is also posted. The nomenclature for the various passes is similar to above. However, the various tests of the "first pass" are labeled with letters. For example, a label of "PA 35-50 1/12 Turn" refers to a first pass test using a mill setting of 1/12 turn (1/3 turn is about 1/2 berry width in the separation of the stones, so 1/12 Turn would be a stone separation of about 1/8 of a berry width), and the 35-50 refers to product that fell through the #35 sieve and was caught in the #50 sieve.

The numbered passes refer to the multipass milling process in the flow chart above, which was used to create various grades of flour, bran, and red granular product.

I also include an updated version of the spreadsheet (xls, html formats) mentioned above that summarizes the results of the Wheat Montana milling session in two addition sheets ("WMactual" and "WMmodel"). On the "WMmodel" sheet, there is an attempt to model what would happen at other mill settings than the one I used, based on data from the initial runs at various coarseness settings and my guesses about how the subsequent millings would go. All of that may not be very useful, except to me. However, the "WMmodel" sheet also shows a summary of the basic ash content output of each stream from the process I ran. The "WMactual" sheet summarizes the actual results for the settings used, but it adjusts for the fact I removed some of the intermediate products to send in as samples for testing at the lab. The model is not exactly what I did, but it is a better description of what would happen if the intermediate samples had not been removed as I conducted the milling session.

Overall, what I discovered is that a finer setting on the mill seemed neccessary to get about the same breakout between "bran", "coarse red granules", "coarse white granules", and "cream flour", which is a rough way of describing 4 products that seem to be produced when I mill berries using a fairly coarse setting for the mill (1/6 turn of the screw from when the stones just touch, corresponding to about 1/4 of a grain width).

Also, I am becoming aware of the fact that there is a threshold effect in the mill setting that has a big impact on the separation of the bran and the yield of white granules that seem to then yield flour with the lowest ash content when remilled and sifted. Only the slightest change in the coarseness setting around the 1/6 turn setting for HRW or at about the 1/8 turn setting for HRS berries seems to make an enormous difference in the relative yield of "white granules" in the first pass of the mill. If the initial pass is too coarse, then result is much more bran attached to large granules, and if the setting is too fine, then the result is too much high ash content flour in the first pass, and less yield of white granules, consequently reducing any chance to extract lower ash content flour in the second milling steps.

I was also struck by the variation in protein and ash content of the berries sent in for testing. I'm wondering if there is a more accurate test or larger sample size needed for the grain in order to get more consistent results. The ash content and protein levels for the berries weren't as expected. For example, the HRS berries (Bronze Chief) from Wheat Montana should have had a higher protein content than the results on the tests show. Also, the HWS berries (Prairie Gold) had an inordinately low ash and protein content than what is normally said to prevail with this type of wheat berry. So, either the tests aren't revealing the true levels for some reason, or the wheat berries vary much more than I thought. Unfortunately, this will require convincing someone at the lab or another expert in this somewhat esoteric area to take a charitable interest in educating me.

Tempering may need to be adjusted for these berries, and I may have learned something new about the tempering time. First of all, it seemed to me that the berries milled as if they needed a little more moisture content. The amount of ash is larger overall. My sense was that the berries and the flour seemed dry. Although I added enough moisture to reach a moisture content over 14%, the moisture content tested at only 13.3%, which may have resulted from letting the berries sit for a little over 48 hours. The tempering period may have been long enough to allow some moisture to escape. Possibly these harder berries have trouble absorbing the moisture, which makes it more available to evaporate from the surface over a period of time. The lids on my tempering containers are probably not perfectly air tight, so moisture may escape very slowly over a period of time. Next time, the tempering for Wheat MT HRS and HWS berries will be conducted in two steps. First, enough moisture will be added to bring the berries to 14% moisture content. Then, in a subsequent step about 24 hours later, the berries will be tested and enough moisture will be added to bring the berries to around 14.5% moisture content followed by an additional 24 hours before milling the berries.

holds99's picture

K.A. Rustic Country Boule-1K.A. Rustic Country Boule-1

 InteriorK.A. Rustic Country Boule-2: Interior

 Rustic Roll + InteriorK.A. Rustic Country Rolls-4: Rustic Roll + Interior

I recently purchased a King Arthur DVD; The Bakers Forum - Artisan Breads, from the K.A. website.  Inside the DVD case there was a recipe for K.A Rustic Country Bread, so I decided to give it try.  The recipe uses a poolish and is fairly easy to make.  I doubled the batch size and made 2 boules and 11 - 3.5 oz. rolls using the shaping technique shown in Mark's video.  I had previously had some problems with shaping and maintaining a nice shape especially with rolls.  This was probably due to applying too much pressure and not having a flour free, dry counter to get good traction, as he recommends, for the shaping.  my old way may have caused deflating some of the gas from the dough during shaping which inhibited the rise and oven spring.  This time I followed the technique in Mark's video and the results were far better than I had been able to previously achieve.  Anyway, I was pleased with the results, just need to do the drill more often.  This dough was made using K.A. bread flour, which gave me less holes than I would have liked, but the crust, interior and taste is good.  I used generously floured, unlined willow bannetons for the boules and baked both boules and rolls on parchment lined baking pans on top of a preheated stone with steam.  Next time I will make the recipe useing K.A. French style flour.  I have 3 bags in the freezer which I ordered from K.A. and have been experimenting with for baguettes/batards.  I'm hoping the French style flour, which contains less protein (I think it's 9% vs. 11-11.5 for A.P and bread flour) than all-purpose and bread flours, will, with more folding during the bulk fermentation stage, give me slightly larger holes in the interior.  I would welcome input from anyone who has any thoughts and/or experience using the French style flour or other similar flour for that matter.  For anyone new to bread baking I would really recommend trying the K.A. Rustic Country Bread as it is fairly simple and uses a poolish and its pretty easy to make if you follow the instructions carefully.  I would suggest scaling (weighing) the flour (I use 125 g. per cup) so that the dough is the right consistancy, fairly slack.  I personally want to thank Mark (and his wife, who is his videographer) again for so generously sharing his knowledge and expertise through their videos and Mark's postings on this site.  Much appreciated, Mark.


scubabbl's picture

I made a basic loaf of white bread and finally figured out my problem. I've been using way to little flour while kneading. This last time, I used a lot of flour and the dough turned out wonderful. I think I finally taken a step forward in my skills.

But, like I said, if it's not one thing, it's another. When I put my loaf in to bake, I acidentally turned off the oven. 30 minutes later, the top had collapsed and it was not in good shape. Doh! (pun intended?) I set the oven for 400 degrees and the timer for 15 minutes and prayed. It actually turned out really soft and tasty. I guess that was to make up for how silly it looked.

JMonkey's picture

Yesterday, I had two unpleasant surprises.

First, when I opened up what I thought was a second full canister of hard red spring wheat, I saw just a few scattered grains on white plastic. Argh! Out of wheat.

Second, by the time I realized that my extended family had devoured the loaf I'd planned to use for sandwiches in the morning, I had no time to do a soaker, a pre-ferment or build up enough sourdough for even a relatively quick (i.e. 7-8 hours start to finish) loaf.

So, I headed down to the store, ordered another 50 lb bag and picked up a couple of pounds of hard red winter wheat to tide me over. It's lower in protein than I'm used to, so I figured I'd just live with less lofty loaves.

As for the bread, I thought, what the heck, picked up The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and turned to her Oatmeal Bread recipe. These days, I've taken to doing an overnight retarding when I make oatmeal bread, but I had no time for that. So I just followed her recipe.

Wow. Not only did the bread rise like a champ, it tasted fantastic. In fact, I daresay it's the best tasting oatmeal bread I've ever made -- warm, sweet, nutty, mmmm. So, as much as I like the effect of pre-ferments and overnight retarding, I think I may have gone too far in rejecting straight doughs. Anyway, here's how I made it:


  • Whole wheat flour: 375 grams or 2.5 cups
  • Dry milk: 2 Tbs
  • Salt: 9 grams or 1.5 tsp
  • Instant yeast: 1 tsp or 3 grams
  • Cooked oatmeal porridge, from steel cut oats, at room temp (no sweetener, no salt): 1 cup
  • Water: 1/4 cup
  • Vegetable oil: 2 Tbs
  • Honey: 1.5 Tbs
Mix the flour, dry milk, salt and yeast in one bowl. In another, mix the oatmeal, water, oil and honey. Dump the dry into the wet, and stir until everything is hydrated.

It'll take a while for the water from oatmeal to migrate to the flour, but if you knead it well for about 10 minutes, the dough will eventually come together. If you think it needs extra water, don't add any until about halfway through the kneading, otherwise you risk making the dough too wet.

Form the dough into a ball, and let it rise in a warm place (if you've got one) for 1.5 to 2.5 hours. When it's ready, a good poke won't readily spring back. Give it a good stretch and fold and shape once again into a ball. Let it rise a second time for about an hour. Finally, shape the dough into a loaf, roll it in rolled oats soaked in milk, put it a greased bread pan and let it rise until the loaf has crested about an inch above the pan in the center.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes. Let it cool for one hour before serving.
Darkstar's picture

Well it's been since I first found TheFreshLoaf in 2006 that I posted to my bread blog. Up until recently I hadn't had much time or energy to do much baking. Couple that with my love of crusty breads and whole wheat and my wife likes non-crusty, white breads and all the married folk can understand how this variable can decrease the amount of bread time for Jason. Well I had the time recently and wanted something to challenge me and get me back in the swing of baking so I scanned the site and decided on Floyd's Pain sur Poolish recipe.


I don't have much experience with working high-hydration dough but the best way to learn is to do so I dove right in. I guess I was feeling cocky from finally ordering and reading BBA but I felt I could handle it or add enough flour to make it a lower hydration loaf. :)


I followed the recipe to the letter with minor variations caused by the weather and temperature in the Chicago area recently (freaking cold). I am pleased and proud to have turned out a lovely boule and to have achieved a crisp crust with a creamy interior; both firsts for me as I usually bake enriched breads. I was doubly pleased and proud when my wife came home and not only tried my bread but actually liked it! I quickly made another poolish and baked up a second batch the next day for around-the-office gifting this time making two smaller boules for my usual "bread-head" and a newly discovered loaf-lover. The picture below was taken of the crumb from one of the smaller loaves my "bread-head" friend devoured. I thanked her for photographing it before it was all gone.


Darkstar's Daily Bread


I got sidetracked after I baked this as my sourdough starter became ready to bake with and I made this same recipe with a cup of starter in place of some of the flour and all of the yeast. I used pieces of info from JMonkey's lesson Squeeze more sour from your sourdough and other suggestions from another site to make a very, VERY tasty loaf. I plan on doing this again to photograph as my wife and I decimated the sourdough loaf before I could take pictures of it.


dmsnyder's picture

 Silesian Light Rye 1

Silesian Light Rye 1

Leader's "Local Bread" has three formulas for Polish ryes. I have made the Silesian Dark Rye once and the Polish Cottaqe Rye many times. Today, I made the Silesian Light Rye for the first time.

Leader describes these "glossy golden loaves" as having "a delicate rye flavor, a spongy crumb, and a thin, chewy crust." That about sums it up. This rye bread is the farthest you can get from a dense, super-sour, dark german rye. But then, it only has about 100 gms of light rye flour to 500 gms of bread flour. The chew and taste are light even compared to a French levain with a bit of rye flour in the dough. It is more like a (extraordinarily good) sandwich bread. The crust gets very soft, and it is thin yet chewy. The whole loaf feels light and spongy. 

I expect it will make lovely toast tomorrow morning to eat with my usual homemade almond butter and apricot jam or marmelade. I also think it would be great for a tuna or egg salad sandwich. I'd want a more substantial rye for corned beef, myself.

silesian Light Rye CrumbSilesian Light Rye Crumb


Floydm's picture

I found this photo in my camera. This was a straight up French bread, like a 65-2-1 combo. It had a 3 hour poolish, with wasn't enough to make a big difference, but it tasted pretty good.

Today I tried baking something similar though with an overnight poolish. I got distracted playing with the kids and let it rise about half an hour longer than I should have. It was huge. When I tried loosening it up on the peel so I could slide it into the oven, it went pffffffft... and deflated by about 40 percent. I got a little bit of spring back in the oven, but, alas, nothing like what it was prior.

My sourdough I timed much better, however. This was just with cheap-o store brand AP flour too, since I've not gotten a chance to pick up another big bag of Pendleton Mills bread flour.

Finally, I also made melon bread this afternoon. A yummy afternoon treat.

Thegreenbaker's picture

Yesterday, we were heading out for the day and we were also out of bread. I decided to throw together some dough and stick it in the fridge until today.

So, I put 4 cuops of sifted wholewheat (14%protein) and about 2cups of water and 1/2 cup milk (its thirsty flour) added some oil and salt also. I only put 1 teaspoon of yeast and everything was quite cool. I then let it sit for 20 mins to align the gluten while I got ready, then kneaded it for about 2 mins,,,,,not even that really....and threw it in the fridge.


We came home and I decided to make pizza with it, but it didnt rise at all. So I took it out folded it while cold and put it in a warm oven for about 5 mins hoping to warm it up and make it DO SOMETHING. Then decided it wasnt worth the effort (its was 9:30pm) so in the fridge it went, and this morning it is still quiet and flat.

I am going to do two things. Take a hunk, shape it and bake it, take the rest and use it as a preferment and add it to some more flour. Lets see what happens.




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